roast your armchair with a hershey bar and graham crackers

oddly, words did the heavy lifting this month in elle decor.  

“i don’t like a lot of curves — all that modern furniture that looks like a collection of marshmallows.”

DAMN.  gauntlet slap.  who wants to play?

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013

that marshmallow couch is all like, bitch let’s take this outside.

i’m with the couch.

anti-marshmallow supremacist john saladino doesn’t mince words when prosthelytizing:

“so much decorating today is in-your-face — the wow factor.  i like holding back.  i’m more interested in what you leave out than put in.”

a little pretentious for my taste.

i read magazines in rounds, the first round without actually reading any text in order to gauge my unbiased emotional response to design.  timothy haynes and anthony roberts had me awe-gasping straight into a choking hazard.

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013


saladino’s work?  barely caused the needle to twitch on my speedometer.

john saladino / elle decor / june 2013

john saladino / elle decor / june 2013

he has a subtlety obsession tipping into fetish, methinks.

on my second pass through his feature in the magazine, i stifled a yawn and took a close read of his clear descriptive vision.

“they’re metamorphic colors that change according to the time if day–gray to celadon, beige to taupe. they’re always implicit, never explicit.”

unlike his monologues.

john saladino / elle decor / june 2013

“i never do anything obvious.”

except talk, apparently.

subtlety belongs behind the professional photographer on the side of the room where you throw all the old newspapers and toy monkeys to get them out of the way of your photoshoot.

while paging through his rooms, i had flashbacks to architectural digest’s february issue celebrating blandness.

terry hunziker / architectural digest / feb 2013

good enough for a layman’s home and wholly inadequate for a glossy interiors spread.

magazine features should cause a cardiac jolt.

kelly wearstler / lonny magazine / june 2013

eyes bugging at the weirdness?

apparently, marshmallow furniture gets the hollywood regency tycoon kelly wearstler seal of approval.  i’m already buzzing with a dozen ways to fit that funk into my lookbook.  (note the checkerboard coffee table.)

(s’more checkerboard.)

kelly wearstler / lonny magazine / june 2013

(take my love with a grain of salt.  by now, i’d applaud a checkerboard-painted landmine.)

as mad men starts a slow jog to the finish line and the great gatsby gains momentum in its pole dance, we’re seeing a natural pivot away from the mid-century modern cupcake shop and towards art deco froyo.

i’m game for a new shock wave of inspiration as long as “beige to taupe” is never quoted again.


style by dr jekyll and mr hyderabad

so, you’re the child of conservative immigrant parents.  to which face of your double life do i have the pleasure of speaking?

the pushover?


or the rebel?

rachelle francey / rue magazine / may-june 2013

i fully shed the pushover just a few years ago and now have a year of my twenties left.  good god.  (though when i started panicking about this yesterday, syed said “why? you’ve always been a thirtysomething.”  …point.)

i’m bored by conformity and am in danger of entering a cliche-loop where i say i’m about to say something cliche and how cliche it is that i would say that i’m about to say a cliche about cliches.

the pushover is gone.  problem is, by now even the rebellious shit feels cliche to me.  count the number of times an eames shell appears in the may/june issue of rue at your own risk… they’ve spread like weeds across the industrialized world straight into my home office. (just kidding chair i love you please don’t leave me.)

i’m bored by conformity, which is why my eyes popped when i saw this bedroom in architectural digest.

philip galanes / architectural digest / june 2013

jaw-dropping coolness.

would you have EVER considered marrying a mod-yellow womb chair to an antique indian bed?  shouldn’t the chair be finishing the bed in a round of mortal kombat?  of course, leave it to the CEO of knoll to make art of oil and water.

i started wondering how others pair iconic MCM furniture with traditional pieces, turned to houzz, and realized that a few designers lug this bit around in the tool kit.

laidlaw schultz architects / houzz

maryam montague / houzz

derrell parker / houzz

sharyn cairns / houzz

…and realized that i do too, subconsciously.

my place

a common pursuit of balance and contrast will inevitably lead decor-obsessed brains to converge on the same great idea.  of course, the pros reach the most daring heights.

(in other words i cannot stop staring at the knoll CEO’s bedroom.)

hope this one never goes cliche.

watching american idol from under your andy warhol

contemporary art is for galleries.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

oops.  i mean, contemporary art is for your house.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

yeah…  the kind of house where they shoot ralph lauren commercials.  the kind of house where they don’t wear white after labor day.  the kind of house where they think ‘sweet caroline’ is a great song for the dance floor at a wedding.  what do you expect to see inside?  oil portraits?  antique china cabinets?  plaids and mallards?

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

think again.

joe nahem schooled me with his eight-month redo of the connecticut home of allison and warren kanders. these guys collect contemporary art like you collect hours watching reality tv.

instead of turning a house into a sterile museum, nahem turned their collection into a personalized home.

no smooth ice-white MoMA walls at these digs.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

look at the blast of wall art against an antique indian rug.  i am all over that bizniss.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

contemporary art mounted on wood walls?  chairs upholstered in faux-bois?  dude didn’t think outside the box, he took a hammer to it.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

their art is giving me sweat bubbles of jealousy on my t-zone.

conventional wisdom had me thinking that these pieces need a gallery-like home.  i may not share the nahem/kanders design taste, but now i understand how to style a home for my future arsenal of contemporary art.

just do whatever the hell i want.

from coffee to cocktails (your home, not your outfit)

so the other day i was bumming around my living room in the 2 pm glare, eyeballing how the walls might look in ultra pure white.  quick mental math!  can i paint everything and replace all my furniture for $50?

don’t judge me.  i made syed promise not to judge me before telling him that i wanted to paint our living room white.  he paused for a second, then took on his fiercest “stop being an unreasonable female” face…  the one he’s aimed at me ohh maybe twice since we met in 2004.

ok.  simmering down.

i named my blog after a paint color, for chrissake.  why would i want to deface a cocoon so carefully tuned to comfort us after work?  am i a tween on an abc afterschool special or some shit?  i define cool, not the guy in tats passing me a cigarette.

still, i’m curious why dim, moody, soothing spaces have fallen out of popular favor lately.

dark walls do sneak into magazines despite the ongoing white room orgy in interiors photography.  why the general shortage?  because they obviously don’t photograph with the ba-BAM of their counterparts.

abigail turin / architectural digest / april 2013

it’s like biting into a watermelon with your whole face.

…not something i’d do in a blizzard.  i wonder what this crisp white space looks like at night.  do light fixtures give the walls a dingy, yellowish bleh?  hmm.

conventional wisdom and the limitations of camera technology play to the strengths of white.  interiors photography must occur in maximum daylight.  don’t even consider the alternative, just deal.  this law might as well be etched on a tablet delivered by moses.  thou shalt and whatnot.

this room is already stunning in daylight:

jenna lyons / domino best rooms / spring 2012

by night, it will stop traffic.  spectacular light fixture + extensive architectural detailing = boom.

i start with the exception.  you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

it is left to us to apply our brain’s instagram (brainstagram?) nighttime filter to these spaces that photograph just a tad awkwardly in the daylight.  observe:

casper vissers / elle decor / jan 2013

not blown away by the daytime shot?  fast-forward to night:  white high contrast furniture to define the space.  dark walls receding to visual infinity.  blazing fire.  voluptuous chandelier.  win win win.

(note the checkerboard table.)

try another one:

fisher weisman / architectural digest / april 2013

your retinas are stimulated but not totally pleased with what they’re seeing, amiright?  the daylight against all these textural dark surfaces reads harsh.  i want to desert the house for the sunlit yard beckoning through those patio doors.  this room was born for the night.

strange to say that about a home office, but here we go:

brandi and mikkelsen / lonny magazine / dec 2012

call this a contemporary take on a gentleman cave, good for mallard displaying and pipe puffing.

ok let’s be honest – this room is preposterous in 2013.  it’s too dark for a productive workday and too technologically backwards for evening.  not sure why it exists.  add a chaise lounger and a couple floor lamps, and i might buy the story.

this room is so similar to mine, my subconscious has already moved in:

matthew patrick smyth / elle decor / dec 2012

a low rectangular lamp, a few flickering candles on the tray, a distant light reflecting in the mirror… yeah pretty sure if i wiggle my toes, you’ll see me sitting there just off to the right.

this bedroom is a no-brainer:

tamzin greenhill / elle decor / march 2013

perfection.  next.

more daytime harshness with the promise of a gorgeous night:

domino small spaces / spring 2013

jankety.  but in dim light under a lit blue star, the muted versions of all those colors will pool together cohesively.

and now back to where we started.

my place

subtract the sun.  mute the colors.  add flickering bursts of candle light, sparkle, and reflection.  don’t see it?  stop by some night for a cup of chai.

until cameras learn to capture what the human eye already knows, we’ve got to read between the lines in pretty pictures.  look past the magazine editors.  turn down the cigarette.  aren’t you, like, twenty-eight or something?

benjamin button interiors, LLC

flipping through april’s architectural digest shook the ground beneath my toes.

check out the kansas city apartment of hallmark exec david jimenez:


david jimenez / architectural digest / april 2013


david jimenez / architectural digest / april 2013


david jimenez / architectural digest / april 2013

i spent the better part of my college years coveting this aesthetic and the better part of my twenties executing it. take in the layer upon layer of color, texture, detail, sparkle, glamor (…all things out of reach to a nineteen year old occupying a room in a 1950s women’s dorm).

a space is designed with the intention that the eyes of a guest should land on a view and spend seconds or minutes unpeeling it.


david jimenez / architectural digest / april 2013

after years of broke dorm living, i went to great lengths to coordinate my apartment and carried this taste until now.

now it just looks old to me.

i don’t refer to rooms that purposefully evoke another era or culture, such as alex papachristidis’ baroque manhattan apartment or anouska hempel’s velvety english manor.


anouska hempel / architectural digest / april 2013

no; i refer to spaces that are contemporary, complex, and serious.

contrast the jimenez apartment with this san francisco beach house belonging to abigail turin.


abigail turin / architectural digest / april 2013


abigail turin / architectural digest / april 2013

these rooms evoke the very definition of youth:  smooth, clear skin.  bright eyes.  a springing step.  laughter.  energy unconscious of its power.

simplicity.  merciful, glorious simplicity.

michael formica hits these notes at times around his connecticut home.


michael formica / architectural digest / april 2013

these guest room chairs make me excited and uncomfortable, much like puppies do:


michael formica / architectural digest / april 2013

i puzzled over this issue of architectural digest to understand what makes a space feel old or young.  though living in the same universe as his youthful moments above, some of the rooms in formica’s home stink of ripening 401k portfolios.


michael formica / architectural digest / april 2013

what’s the missing ingredient?  bright pops of colors?  is that the secret to a youthful space?

apparently not:


jamie drake / architectural digest / april 2013


jamie drake / architectural digest / april 2013


jamie drake / architectural digest / april 2013

sure, these rooms are coordinated, balanced, and aesthetically good.  they also remind me of elton john’s elton-johnish home from last month’s AD.

(i’ll let you decide if ‘elton-johnish’ is a compliment.)


martyn lawrence bullard / architectural digest / march 2013


martyn lawrence bullard / architectural digest / march 2013

these photos make me want to chuck my ipad across the room.

so pops of colors + white walls does not a youthful interior make.  what, then??

…whatever it is that’s going on in will ferrell’s manhattan apartment:


shawn henderson / architectural digest / march 2013


shawn henderson / architectural digest / march 2013


shawn henderson / architectural digest / march 2013

casual ease?  yes, that’s what i’ll name her.

brightness + pops of color + casual ease.  this is Me Right Now.

i share these musings not to be the jerk who criticizes personal style.  if a home dweller consciously plants her style on a space, i respect.  period.

what throws me is the backwards journey i’ve taken from the layered wisdom of jimenez to the youthful whimsy of turin.  it’s disconcerting.  and yet…

my parents spent this week visiting us in detroit.  they shared, with enthusiasm, their continuing adventures thanks to a renewed energy for life and a willingness to leave behind the seriousness of their parenting years.

they said: when i was 20 i thought like i was 60, and now that i’m 60 i live like i’m 20.

is this the new direction of my design tastes?

i’ll take it.

it’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange

this art is creepy, right?


francesca connolly / elle decor / march 2013

the room is calm and comfortable.  i wouldn’t know, though.  i’m busy peering into the ratty living room above the sofa and wondering if i’m gonna catch a zombie strolling by.

i’ve seen this inception-for-interiors concept now twice in a week, the second time in will ferrell’s midcentury funk loft.


shawn henderson / architectural digest / march 2013

the pop art angle makes it less bonkers here… only slightly, though.  zombie marge simpson?

odd to me that a person would use the image of a room as wall art in a room.  the room IS the art, where principles of aesthetic, balance, proportion, color, contrast are wielded as carefully as a designer might in clothing or sculpture or internet meme.  i think that a picture of a room inside the room mucks up the room.

i mean, does a photograph of a belle epoque parlor confuse your modernist living room?  does an image of a chesterfield couch belong over a real chesterfield couch or a futon?  do overlapping styles complement each other or compete/distract?  what are the guidelines for rooms-within-rooms??

…challenge accepted.  (i am clutching my blanket in fear.)

architectural indigestion

i am baffled by february’s architectural digest.

it’s as if the fates heard my incessant babbling about light woods and conspired to slap me down like an overgrown puppy.  HEEL, girl.  HEEL.







still awake or did the parade of beige knock you out biochem textbook-style?

these spaces are not bad, per se. if a friend were to invite me to any one of these houses, i would nod my head in appreciation of a honed aesthetic in a marvelous structure.

here’s the rub:  i turn to publications like arch digest to show me that there is no spoon.  i do not turn to publications like arch digest to supplement my ambien prescription.

seriously, guys, what the hell?  i want my money back.

skull-gripping frustration when i read this kind of thing:

“where the midcentury mexican modernists often employed planes painted in eye-popping primary colors, backen and kroeger utilized neutral hues and earthy materials.”

“the mix of modern and vintage furnishings incorporates earthy oak and bronze, leathers in shades of cream and brown, and textiles in restful watery blues and soft-lichen greens.  carpets are in gentle colors that recall tree bark.”

“our marching orders were to stay within a strictly limited color palette of grays, whites, and chocolate, and to avoid anything overly decorative.”

FINE.  then i don’t want to see pictures of the inside of your house in a magazine.  that glorious platner table does nothing for your room except to offer me a place to put down my ginger ale before i pass out in boredom.


no, really, there is a veritable clown car of beige rooms in this issue.




the internet may not be able to fit all of them.





my mind boggles.

mercifully, these two moments offer cool relief to burning eyes:


benedikt bolza / architectural digest / feb 2013

the homeowners designed the bedsculptures and painted the floorartwork.  power couple.


sultana and croft / architectural digest / feb 2013

are you taking notes?  this is what championships are made of.

as far as i’m concerned, architectural digest should have published their february issue as a 1-page flyer with these two photos and a classified ad: now hiring editors!